A Familiar Look

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County

Walk along the Perimeter Levee Trail at the Loxahatchee Road entrance and the landscape within Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge begins to look the same as at the Lee Road boat launch. The open water begins to narrow. Marshes, sawgrass ridges, sloughs and tree islands dominate in the interior. One thing we noticed was the difference in plant life between the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area to the south and Loxahatchee. It appears to be a lot denser in the WMA than it is in the refuge — moonflower, an aggressive native morning glory draped heavily over plants and some non-natives could be spotted. Check out this Google map and switch to satellite view. The contrast between Loxahatchee and the WMA is striking. You would expect the topography to be similar, but while the refuge is dotted with open water, there is little to none in the WMA, which the South Florida Water Management District oversees. If we had to guess, we'd say the difference, at least partially, might be attributed to a difference in water flow — hydrology — or it could aggressive natives invasive plants overgrowing the area — or both. Fighting invasives like Brazilian pepper and old world climbing fern is a constant and expensive battle for both the refuge and the WMA. Though the amenities are bare bones here, this part of Loxahatchee is a popular spot for hiking, biking and fishing; there are boat launches and boat rentals available through a vendor. Bike and hike the Perimeter Levee Trail. There is no drinking water and the restroom is a single portable toilet. Note: the entrance here is open 24 hours; the $10 entrance fee applies, collected on an honor system. More on the Loxahatchee Road entrance here.

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Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.